Friday 14 January 2011

Quotes of the Week: From BSkyB to libel reform

Henry Porter in the Observer on phone-hacking at the News of the World: "This affair has gone beyond the merely political: allegations of serious systemic corruption, with proper procedures on a criminal matter distorted because of News International's power, require proper investigation. In these circumstances, there must be cross-party consensus that it would be utterly wrong for the merger of News International and BSkyB to go ahead."

Stephen Glover in the Independent: "I still don't grasp – though doubtless I am being very dim – how it will make much difference to the British public whether Mr Murdoch controls and runs BSkyB, as he does at present, or whether he controls, runs and owns the whole of it, as he hopes to do."

BBC's Robert Peston on his blog: "What I am saying is very simple: Ofcom has recommended that there should be a full Competition Commission enquiry into News Corporation’s plan to buy all of British Sky Broadcasting. That is a fact."

Julian Assange's legal team on the dangers of his extradition to the US: "Indeed, if Mr Assange were rendered to the USA, without assurances that the death penalty would not be carried out, there is a real risk that he could be made subject to the death penalty. It is well known that prominent figures have implied, if not stated outright, that Mr Assange should be executed."

Ex-Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly after winning her employment tribunal against the BBC:"I did this because it was the right thing to do - I couldn't have lived with myself if I'd just walked away."

Former Channel 4 chairman Luke Johnson in the Mail on Sunday: "Essentially, Google pays for no content whatsoever, but parasitically lives off the back of all those organisations that actually commission writers, actors, directors, producers to make original material. All those film-makers, journalists and others who are being thrown out of work can blame Google: they have ransacked the UK media industry, and are not even paying reasonable levels of tax on their usurious gains."

Roy Greenslade in the Evening Standard on Max Mosley's European Court bid to require newspapers to give “prior notification” to people whose privacy they are about to infringe: "The publication of a malicious, scurrilous and sordid piece of tittle-tattle now threatens the practice of serious and sober journalism. Blame the News of the World for the danger we face, not Mosley."

An article in The Economist on the British newspaper market: "The strategies being pursued by News Corporation, the Daily Mail and General Trust and Lebedev Holdings rest on distinct assumptions about what readers want, what they will pay for, and the future of advertising. It is highly unlikely that all three experiments will work. It may well be that none of them does. But none can be faulted for lack of boldness. The innovators also exude more confidence than others. The Guardian, which first championed a big, free online presence, has been overhauled by the Mail’s website. It lacks News Corporation’s expertise in bundling and is far more expensively staffed than the Lebedevs’ outfits. It is a measure of how quickly things are moving that the newspaper closest to the cutting edge a few years ago now seems most in need of a new strategy."

BBC College of Journalism executive editor Kevin Marsh speaking at Gray's Inn debate on libel law reform: "We journalists - particularly in gatherings like this or when we're delivering disingenuously serious-minded, ironic, hypocritical keynote speeches at Editors' Conferences - deceive ourselves about why we're loathed by the very public in whose interest we profess to report. We tell ourselves it's because we're independent, bloody-minded, won't be bamboozled, stand up to pressure and tell it how it is. But surely we know it's none of those things. It's because too many journalists make up too much, too often. And then, when they're found out, writhe every which way rather than put it right."

Leader in the Independent: "Mr Clegg needs to do more to demonstrate that the actions of this Coalition are reflecting Liberal Democrat values. In libel reform, a cause championed by the Liberal Democrats long before either of the other two political parties took it up, he has an opportunity. Mr Clegg can combine a landmark Liberal Democrat victory with a triumph for free speech."

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